The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/09/12 at 12:25 PM ET
Updated 9x with more chatter at 1:18 PM: Howard will be back within 7-10 days and Cleary’s out for at least two games and there’s an official site, http://www.2013winterclassic.com (which may or may not work), as well as a sign-up website for Priority access to Winter Classic tickets:: The Red Wings and the NHL will shortly make an announcement regarding the 2013 Winter Classic in the first of 2 press conferences to be held today. The NHL will make an announcement at Comerica Park today at 10:30 AM and at Michigan Stadium at 1:15 PM. This live stream should work:
As CBS Detroit notes, we’re more or less waiting for the details of the event to be fleshed out:
Will the NHL’s 2013 Winter Classic happen at the University of Michigan? Some believe it’s the worst-kept secret in national sports.
Final negotiations were under way Wednesday, according to Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon.
The NHL is expected to announce the 2013 Winter Classic will be played between Toronto Maple Leafs and The Detroit Red Wings.
But even if it’s basically a done deal, there’s still plenty to learn. Will alcohol sales be allowed? What would tickets cost? How would it impact the region?
And, how can fans get a seat?
Those questions and more are expected to be answered during the 10:30 a.m. press conference about the big event.
The Red Wings’ website, via RedWingsFeed, has already posted a teaser:
So it’s official now with Michigan’s Board of Regents giving its final approval. At $3 million, it’s a bargain for the NHL. And it’s a dream come true I’ve talking about for years.
It will be the hottest ticket imaginable for an NHL game. Not only because is it huge here, but it will pull in countless people from Canada. We are a border state, and an Original Six town. Nothing could celebrate that more than this.
Comerica Park would have been fine for the game, but the Big House just adds magnitude to the event. Especially with the renovation of Michigan Stadium, it can even match Comerica Park in terms of luxury boxes.
A couple things to ponder:
- Can’t wait to see the Red Wings preparing for the event on HBO’s 24/7 series. I enjoy that as much as the game itself now.
- There is plenty of time to prepare for the parking issues in the winter near Michigan Stadium. Snow/rain could take the golf course and Ann Arbor Pioneer out of the equation, but there is a lot of time to plan for it, and Michigan has been through this before with a game against Michigan State.
- What if the Wolverines are playing in a bowl game that day. Talk about divided attention.
But it will be so much fun. We’ve forgotten about just what a great rivalry the Red Wings and Maple Leafs have for years. It is literally as close as it can be. Toronto leads the all-time series in the regular season 276-275. In Toronto has won 13 of its 25 playoff series against the Red Wings.
And if you want to talk about the Ben Eager hit on Danny Cleary, via Paul, here it is:
I’ll try to post some inline updates as the presser goes along…
Update #1: Michigan Hockey’s Twitter feed offers a picture of an outline of a rink at Comerica Park…
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff transcribed his copy of the initial press release as well:
The worst-kept secret in hockey was already out, so why pretend anymore?
Upon arrival at Comerica Park for Thursday’s press conference announcing the 2013 NHL Winter Classic Game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, the signboard across the road at the Fox Theatre was already welcoming people to the event, as well as the secondary event, the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
“The meeting of these two original six rivals, at this iconic venue, will lift this Winter Classic to incomparable heights,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
“The rich hockey heritage of these two original six hockey clubs will make for an extremely memorable event, played in front of the NHL’s largest crowd ever,” added Leafs general manager Brian Burke.
While the Leafs and Wings are anticipated to set a world record for attendance at a hockey game when they meet Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, a secondary phase of games will be played at Comerica Park leading up to the New Year’s Day event, including an Ontario Hockey League doubleheader featuring the two-time Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.
The Spitfires will play the Saginaw Spirit, while the Plymouth Whalers will play host to the London Knights in an OHL doubleheader. The date for those games are yet to be announced.
“(Wings owners) Mike and Marian Ilitch are deeply committed to their beloved Detroit,” Bettman said. “The Hockeytown Winter Festival is just the latest example of their passion for their city and for hockey.”
The festival will also feature the Great Lakes Invitational NCAA tournament, including teams from Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan. The Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, American Hockey League affiliates of the Wings and Leafs, will also play a game. AS well, the Wings and Leafs alumni will meet at Comerica Park. There will be high school, sledge hockey and youth games as part of the festivities, and the temporary rink in the middle of the baseball diamond will also be open for public skating.
“We are proud to show the world why we love Hockeytown,” Mike Ilitch said.
Update #2: per Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji:
Just asked #RedWings Kris Draper if he was playing in the #NHL alumni game. He said, “Yeah!” Yeah as in of course!
Estimating 150 to 200k people will come to downtown Detroit. #2013NHLWinterClassic
Per the Wings:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: I suppose imagination is what brings us here today.
Ted Lindsay and Kris Draper await the big news in the front row. twitpic.com/8hnmje
Bettman: The @NHL is proud to announce that the Detroit Red Wings are proud to host the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The 2013 #WinterClassic will feature the @DetroitRedWings and @MapleLeafs at Michigan Stadium, a.k.a. ‘The Big House’ in Ann Arbor.
Bettman: It was the vision of Mike and Marian Ilitch that this #WinterClassic be the biggest one ever.
Comerica Park will host the AHL, OHL, Alumni and Open Skating. #WinterClassic
Bettman: Since this outdoor matchup is so big, there is only one place where it could be played. The Big House at the U of M. #WinterClassic
Commissioner Bettman at the podium. #WinterClassic twitpic.com/8hnonl
Mike Ilitch has taken the podium, starts off by noting that Comerica Park has become ‘quite the place for big announcements.’
Ilitch: We’re really excited for the fans. This community deserves a great event. This is one of the best sports towns ever. #WinterClassic
Ilitch: I can promise you that there will be something for everyone. #WinterClassic
Ilitch: I’m all fired up. I want to get my skates. #WinterClassic
Christopher Ilitch: Our organization is committed to making this the best #WinterClassic.
Christopher Ilitch says that the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational will be the first hockey games played at Comerica Park.
Mayor Bing: As a former athlete playing downtown in this city, I know what it’s like. I know how great our fans are. #WinterClassic
The Tiger statue outside of Comerica Park has been decked out in a Red Wings sweater. #WinterClassic http://www.twitpic.com/8hnsmm
Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsay, Kris Draper and Mike Babcock are in the audience here at the #WinterClassic press conference.
Want to keep up to date on the latest 2012 Winter Festival and 2013 Winter Classic info? Bookmark the official site: bit.ly/zsWdbF
Red Wing and Maple Leaf alumni pose for a photo. #WinterClassic twitpic.com/8ho24s
The #WinterClassic press conference has concluded with group photos. twitpic.com/8ho1v4
The Free Press’s Wings Twitter account states the obvious:
“We won’t have enough tickets to satisfy demand”—Bettman
Gary Bettman estimates 150,000-200,000 people to Downtown Detroit for Winter Classic.
Chris Ilitch: “What defines #Hockeytown is the people.”
” ... what potentially could be the largest crowd for a hockey game at Michigan Stadium.” #Makingdavebrandonmad
Chris Ilitch: “We’re ready to host the world.” #Winterclassic
2013 #GLI at Comerica Park: Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Western Michigan. #Winterclassic
Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing.
Bing: “It’s hard for me to believe this is going to happen.” #Unbelievable
Bing: “As a former athlete playing downtown in this city, I know what it’s like. I know how great our fans are.”
Rink layout boarded off on Comerica infield. Nets behind short, second base. Pic coming later. #Winterclassic
Chris Ilitch: “Sharpen your skates.” #Winterclassic
Ken and Mickey are cracking me up by the coffee machine. #Morningswithkenandmickey
Some guy from Toronto: “Hockeytown and Leaf Nation, two of greatest hockey towns in world, will produce some of greatest memories.”
And Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika:
They’re calling it the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
All the Winter Classic stuff says “Big House.” No mention of Michigan Stadium. Size is what matters in this case.
Ted Lindsay’s here. You know he’ll play in alumni game. Looks great.
Bettman makes it official. Leafs-Wings. Big House. Jan. 1.
AHL, OHL, college, alumni and youth games will be at Comerica Park. Hotels and events will be in Detroit.
GLI will be at Comerica Park. Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Western Michigan.
Some guy from Toronto: “Hockeytown and Leaf Nation, two of greatest hockey towns in world, will produce some of greatest memories.”
#SGFT: “It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.” #Winterclassic
Alex Delvecchio, Kris Draper, Ted Lindsay in attendance. #Winterclassic
Don Fehr remembers first time he was in Comerica, 2005 All-Star Game. #MLBPA
Fehr: “This is one of the remarkable places for this event to take place.”
Fehr: “This looks like something that people will remember for a very long time.” #Winterclassic
Commercial break, Ken Holland and Brian Burke coming up next. Ken and Mickey still by coffee.
Cue a world record, per the CP’s Chris Johnston:
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says 115,000 tickets will be available for the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
And the Maple Leafs fans get angry, per Michigan Hockey:
Chris Ilitch - Dec. 2012, Detroit and southeastern Michigan will be the heart of the hockey universe. #2013NHLWinterClassic
Peer the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran:
Leafs Wings have played 644 times, Leafs won 276, Wings 275. “Could be rubber match of all time,” says Anselmi
Update #3: Ken Holland and Brian Burke sit down for a chat:
Via the Wings:
When asked about the matchup, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke called it “Hockeytown vs. the center of the Hockey Universe.” #WinterClassic
Holland: Whenever Toronto plays in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, there is always a playoff atmosphere. #WinterClassic
Burke: “Obviously, this is a great rivalry.” #Obvi
Burke: “We’re thrilled to be part of it.” #Winterclassic
Burke: “Leaf Nation will show up.” #Winterclassic
And the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff...
Burke: it’ Hockeytown vs the centre of the hockey universe.
Burke; told them we could sell 50,000 tickets in 2 hours.
Burke; It’s special to play outdoors and beat Detroit.
Burke: It’s Hockeytown vs. The Centre of the Hockey Universe.
Burke: Leaf Nation will show up in big numbers.
And the Sporting News’s Craig Custance:
Brian Burke on Winter Classic: “It’s Hockeytown vs. The Center of the hockey universe.”
And FSD’s Dana Wakiji:
#Redwings Draper, Lindsay and Delvecchio just donned Wings jerseys. #2013NHLWinterClassic
Here’s the NHL’s official press release:
The Detroit Red Wings will host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus in the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on Tuesday, Jan. 1, the National Hockey League announced today. Nicknamed “The Big House,” the stadium is the largest in North America. It is anticipated that the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® could set an all-time world attendance record for a hockey game. The game will be broadcast live on NBC in the U.S. and on CBC and RDS in Canada.
“The Red Wings’ tradition of excellence, Detroit’s passion for hockey and the glorious history of the Maple Leafs create a Winter Classic scenario for the ages,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The meeting of these two ‘Original Six’ rivals, at this iconic venue, will lift this Winter Classic to incomparable heights. The demand to be there will be so great that this event could only be held at ‘The Big House.’”
In concert with the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, beginning in mid-December, Comerica Park in downtown Detroit will be home to a celebration of hockey titled the Hockeytown Winter Festival. The main attraction of the festival will be an ice rink built on the Comerica Park field where a special game between notable Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni – the NHL Alumni Showdown – will be played.
The outdoor rink at Comerica Park will feature games between teams representing every level of hockey and opportunities for open skating for the public. Over a quarter of a million fans are expected to watch youth games, high school hockey games, sled hockey games, AHL and OHL games and more. The Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Red Wings, will play the Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs, on the Comerica Park rink. For the first time in its history, the Great Lakes Invitational will be played outdoors as Michigan Tech, the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan University, will be part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival. Also, the ballpark will host two OHL matchups: the Windsor Spitfires vs. Saginaw Spirit and the Plymouth Whalers vs. London Knights.
“Mike and Marian Ilitch are deeply committed to their beloved Detroit. That commitment has never wavered,” Commissioner Bettman added. “The Hockeytown Winter Festival is just the latest example of their passion for their city and for hockey.”
The 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® continues the tradition the NHL® has established of hosting a regular-season game outdoors at the onset of the new year to celebrate the origin and traditions of hockey. This season in Philadelphia, both the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® between the Flyers and New York Rangers and the alumni game two days prior attracted sellout crowds. More than 100,000 fans visited Spectator Plaza, the official outdoor hockey festival adjacent to the ballpark.
Further details on the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, including the official event logo, ticketing information and uniform design for each team, will be released in the coming months.
Two members of the NHL’s “Original Six®,” the Red Wings and Maple Leafs are longtime rivals, having first played against each other on Jan. 4, 1927 as the Toronto St. Patricks defeated the Detroit Cougars 2-1 in a game near Detroit. Just over a month later, the Toronto team was re-named the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs captured a 4-3 victory on Saturday, Jan. 7 in the only regular-season meeting of the teams this season, marking the 644th regular-season contest between the franchises. As of today, each is the second most-common regular-season opponent for the other. The Maple Leafs have faced only Montreal more often; the Red Wings only the Blackhawks.
Not only is the Detroit-Toronto hockey rivalry a storied one, it is a competitive one. All-time during the regular season, Detroit (275-273-93-3) has captured 646 points against Toronto, holding an advantage by the slimmest of margins over Toronto’s 645 versus Detroit (276-275-93-0).
More than just a regular-season phenomenon, the rivalry remains as profound and closely contested in the Stanley Cup® Playoffs. The 117 playoff games between the franchises is the second most in NHL history (Boston vs. Montreal=170). The Red Wings have won 59 of those games to the Maple Leafs’ 58, outscoring Toronto 321-311. However, the Maple Leafs hold the edge in terms of playoff series victories, 12-11 in the 23 playoff rounds between the two.
The 2011-12 versions of the teams feature some of the top talent in the NHL. The Red Wings are led by captain Nicklas Lidstrom, the seven-time and defending Norris Trophy winner who is also an 11-time NHL All-Star. Lidstrom, along with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Holmstrom, Jimmy Howard and more, have the Red Wings fighting for top spot in the Western Conference once again.
“We are honored to host the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® and bring the Hockeytown Winter Festival to our fans,” said Red Wings Owner Michael Ilitch. “This is one of the greatest sports towns ever and to be able to host this celebration of the sport of hockey will provide a tremendous positive economic impact to our community. We are proud to show the world why we love Hockeytown!”
The Maple Leafs were well represented at the recent 2012 NHL All-Star weekend with three players in Ottawa. Captain Dion Phaneuf and the high-scoring tandem of Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel were recognized for their outstanding seasons to date.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs and our fans are extremely thrilled to be a part of the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Brian Burke, Maple Leafs President and General Manager. “The rich hockey heritage of the these two Original Six hockey clubs will make for an extremely memorable event played in front of the NHL’s largest crowd ever. The atmosphere and pageantry will be an outstanding spectacle for our sport.”
“For the players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings, having this opportunity to play hockey outdoors at ‘The Big House’ in front of a passionate and potentially record-setting crowd will be a unique experience that they will always remember,” said NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr. “The Leafs & Red Wings Players are looking forward to what should be a great day for everyone involved.”
Michigan Stadium re-claimed the title of the largest stadium in the U.S. after the completion of seating renovations in 2010 increased its official capacity to 109,901. The historic home of Wolverine football easily becomes the largest venue to host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®.
“We are excited to provide the NHL with use of our beautiful Michigan Stadium for the NHL Winter Classic,” said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. “This will be a way for hockey fans around the globe to experience Michigan Stadium and the University of Michigan. This event will have a significant positive economic impact on the Ann Arbor community and the State of Michigan.”
The five previous editions of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® comprise five of the top six most watched regular-season NHL games in the U.S. in the past 37 years. The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® in Pittsburgh on NBC Sports aired in primetime and was the most-watched NHL regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million viewers. The event also drew the largest audience on CBC for any of the U.S.-based outdoor NHL games.
“It’s more than appropriate that the NHL’s biggest regular-season event is now moving to North America’s biggest venue,” said Jon Miller, president programming, NBC Sports & NBC Sports Network. “If any venue can grow the spectacle of the NHL Winter Classic, it’s The Big House. We continue to be extraordinarily proud of our contribution in creating and growing this tremendous event with our partners at the NHL.”
“Canadians have come to expect the best hockey coverage from CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and we’re proud to once again be the host broadcaster of the NHL Winter Classic in 2013, when the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Detroit Red Wings,” said Jeffrey Orridge, Executive Director, CBC Sports Properties. “This game has quickly become appointment viewing for hockey fans across country and even more so this season with an Original Six matchup featuring one of Canada’s most storied franchises, live from Michigan Stadium. We have no doubt that this will be one of the most anticipated and exciting NHL Winter Classic games yet.”
Sirius XM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage. NHL.com will provide extensive digital video coverage and NHL Network™ will once again provide hours of coverage live from Hockeytown in the days leading up to and after the game.
NHL.com has already posted a video promoting the Big House game in Shawn P. Roarke’s presser:
Ticket news fromMcGran:
Tickets not on sale yet; probably within a month, says Anselmi
get on the ticket waiting list here
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of the Hockey Fest aspect…
Get ready for a memorable week of outdoor hockey all over Metro Detroit.
The Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, 2013, on the NHL Winter Classic, it was officially announced by league commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday morning.
“The Red Wings’ tradition of excellence, Detroit’ passion for hockey and the glorious history of the Maple Leafs create a Winter Classic scenario for the ages,” Gary Bettman said. “The meeting of these two Original Six rivals, at this iconic venue, will lift this Winter Classic to incomparable heights. The demand to be there will be so great this event could only be held at the Big House.”
Corresponding with that sure-to-be record-breaking event, beginning in mid-December, Comerica Park will be home to the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
The main attraction of the festival will be an ice rink built on the Comerica Park field, with a Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs alumni game as the featured showcase.
The rink will be positioned from shallow left to shallow right field.
There will also be a game between the franchise’s AHL affiliates, the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies; the Great Lakes Invitational college hockey tournament; a pair of OHL games featuring the Saginaw Spirit, Plymouth Whalers, London Knights and Windsor Spitfires; youth games; and many more events and activities.
“Mike and Marian Ilitch are deeply committed to their beloved Detroit,” Bettman said. “That commitment has never wavered. The Hockeytown Winter Festival is just the latest example of their passion for their city and for hockey.”
The Grand Rapids Griffins are confirming that they’ll play the Toronto Marlies:
The Grand Rapids Griffins will venture outside to play in winter’s chill for the first time next season when they host the Toronto Marlies in a regular season American Hockey League game at Detroit’s Comerica Park.
The Griffins’ first-ever outdoor game will be part of the Detroit Red Wings’ “Hockeytown Winter Festival,” a series of NHL alumni, junior, college, high school and youth contests that will lead up to the much-anticipated 2013 NHL Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1.
All game dates, as well as ticket prices, policies and procedures, will be announced in the coming months. Fans wishing to receive Griffins-Marlies ticket information once it’s available are invited to submit their contact information here.
“We’re honored to be part of such a tremendous and historic event for the Red Wings and hockey fans across Michigan,” said Tim Gortsema, the Griffins’ senior vice president of business operations. “Comerica Park is an appropriate place for us to play our first outdoor game, as many of our current players will be playing full-time in downtown Detroit in just a few years, and nearly 50 former Griffins have worn the Winged Wheel since 2002. Our organization and our fans are thrilled to have this opportunity to represent the AHL in Hockeytown.”
Via NHLcom, here are Bettman’s comments…
Those of Mike and Chris Ilitch…
And Detroit mayor Dave Bing…
Update #4: More from the Wings...
Babcock: It’s great. I’m excited that this is an Original Six matchup. It’s fantastic for our organization and for the game of hockey.
&Brian Burke whining, per James Mirtle and the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger:
Burke: “If we have 50,000 (fans at Winter Classic), it’s only because we were only provided with 50,000 tickets.” #Leafs#Wings
Biggy Biggy Biggy from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle: Fans are being asked to sign up here for priority access to Winter Classic tickets;
• The CP’s confirming the event;
• From the Freep’s Twitter account:
Some people, legends at today’s #Winterclassic presser: http://yfrog.com/mnuy7fbj
• And here are more videos via RedWingsFeed:
Here’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment COO Tom Anselmi:
Here’s NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr…
And parts 1….
And four of the chit chat between Brian Burke and Ken Holland:
Update #5: Per WXYZ’s Tom Leyden:
Mike Babcock NOT thrilled about 24/7 all-access with #RedWings for Winter Classic but it is part of the deal.
Babcock just feels the way you get your team ready isn’t everybody’s business and not all moments are made for YouTube #RedWings
I’m trying to convince Mike that it’s awesome for fans, but it’s funny- he brings up his kids watching and sometimes he crosses the line.
Draper suggested the #RedWings will trot out Vernon, Osgood and Hasek - one for each period. Also thinks Shanny, Hull would play.
Injury updates? We have them, per the Wings:
According to GM Ken Holland, Dan Cleary will miss this weekend’s games against Anaheim and Philadelphia.
Holland also said that he’s hoping to have Jimmy Howard back in the next 7-10 days.
Update #6: The Toronto Sun is confirming, as is the Associated Press, TSN, Sportsnet, WDIV, Fox 2, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, Fox Sports Detroit, MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Red Wings, etc. etc., NHL.com’s Corey Masisak spoke to Big Chill at the Big House alums, and…
Per the Free Press’s Twitter account...
Kris Draper told me he is in for the alumni game, as is Kirk Maltby
The Wings have talked to Brendan Shanahan about playing, he told them he’d put the screws on Steve Yzerman to come, too.
No current Wings at Comerica presser - Nicklas Lidstrom, Kronwall, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Howard slated to be at Michigan stadium presser
Here’s the Leafs’ press release:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs and our fans are extremely thrilled to be a part of the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Maple Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke. “The rich hockey heritage of these two Original Six hockey clubs will make an extremely memorable event played in front of the NHL’s largest crowd ever. The atmosphere will be an outstanding spectacle for our sport.”
“Hockey Town meets Leafs Nation. This is a classic rivalry almost as old as the league itself,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “It is going to be great to see two of the greatest hockey clubs in the world whose matchups have produced some of the greatest memories in hockey history battle it out in front of over 100,000 fans.”
The CBC issued a lengthy report as well.
As an FYI, the CBC Windsor reports that the City of Windsor will help fans with travel and accommodations, too.
Update #7: Here’s the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ morning presser report:
Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch is so excited about the Winter Classic, he wants to be in it.
Ilitch opened his remarks this morning by joking, “Where are my skates? The man fired me up.”
The man, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, had just made formal what already has been reported: that the Wings will host the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that there’ll be a hockey lover’s dream’s worth of event at Comerica Park leading up to the annual outdoor game, including an AHL game, OHL games, college games, and an alumni game that will feature former Wings Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby.
Toronto general manager Brian Burke said the Leafs didn’t have to think twice about taking part in the event.
“It’s Hockeytown versus the center of the hockey universe,” he said to much laughter from a crowd that included colleague Ken Holland of the Wings and former players ranging from Alex Delvecchio to Ted Lindsay to Draper, along with ex-Leafs George Armstrong and Red Kelly (also a former Wing), and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
MLve’s Brendan Savage filed a morning presser report as well...
“These two rivals will take this event to a new, record-setting level,” predicted Bettman, who expects the game to set an all-time attendance record. “Even with 115,000 tickets available, we still won’t have enough to satisfy the demand.”
The NHL attendance record is 71,217, set at the 2008 Winter Classic at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium, in a game between the Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins. Michigan Stadium hosted “The Big Chill at the Big House,” a college game between Michigan and Michigan State that drew a crowd of 113,411 on Dec. 11, 2010.
Among those in attendance for today’s 30-minute news conference were Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, general managers Ken Holland of Detroit and Brian Burke of Toronto, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, and former Red Wings Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsay and Kris Draper.
Next year will mark the Red Wings’ second appearance in the Winter Classic. They also played in the event in 2009 in Chicago, beating the Blackhawks 6-4 before 40,818 at Wrigley Field.
“The players had an unbelievable experience and it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” Holland said. “I think it’s going to be incredible. “Whenever Toronto plays at Joe Louis Arena, there’s always a playoff atmosphere.”
The game at The Big House will mark the first time a Canadian team has played in the Winter Classic.
“It’s Hockey Town vs. the center of the hockey universe,” Burke said, only half joking. “We’re really excited about this. I guarantee you’re going to see a lot of blue in The Big House on Jan. 1. The league asked if I could sell 40,000 tickets and I said, ‘I need 48 hours.’ They called back and asked if I could sell 50,000 and I said, ‘I need 72 hours.’ Our guys are really excited about it.”
Tom Anastos, new head coach of Michigan State, former commissioner of the CCHA and a leading hockey figure in Michigan expects the weeks of outdoor hockey to be a tremendous experience for the state of Michigan.
“Well, I think it’s terrific from many regards,” Anastos said. The economic impact to our state is needed; the incredible attention that Detroit and the state will get throughout most and all these events will be well-deserved and well-needed.
“Certainly, I think for our sport more than anything, to be able to make this event as far-reaching well beyond just the idea of a single hockey game to reach all the different levels; I think it will really show the whole world the depth of passion for the sport of hockey in this state.”
Update: Interesting stuff from the Michigan Daily’s Stepehn J. Nesbitt:
Asked Mike Illitch what next week will bring (Prince last week, Winter Classic this week): “I don’t know, we’ll see! Hold your breath.”
Gary Bettman: “We do a reality show and then we put another element on it by playing in the elements. So this is the ultimate reality show.”
Gary Bettman on Big House: “I’ve heard it’s legendary. … I figure you take the biggest event I’ve been to and just add another layer to it.”
And here’s the delightful brian Burke insiting that his fan base is the best an that his team will win:
Update #8.5: Interesting ancillary reading from the Wings:
• Bill Roose notes that the Wings’ first outdoor game was against Marquette Prison inmates;
• Zack Crawford points out that while Allan Bester played his, erm, “best” hockey against Detroit, the former Maple Leaf was one of Chris Osgood’s mentors;
• And Roose offered Wings quotes about the Winter Classic from Wednesday as well.
Update #9: here are some new quotes via USA Today’s Kevin Allen,/a>...
“I can promise you there will be something for everyone,” said Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.
The Big House has drawn more than 114,000 for a Michigan football games, and the NHL is hoping to draw a higher number once the stadium configuration is sorted out for the outdoor event. The record hockey crowd is 104,173 at Michigan Stadium for a college game between Michigan and Michigan State on Dec. 11, 2010.
The Red Wings are making their second trip to the Winter Classic, having defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
“That game was one of the highlights of my career,” said former NHL player Kris Draper. “Now to have Detroit and Toronto go at it is a no-brainer.”
The franchises have been playing each other since 1926, and they are tied at 276 wins apiece.
“Toronto and Detroit are two great organizations and they were bitter rivals when we played,” said Hall of Famer Red Kelly, who played for both teams during a career that last from 1946 until 1967.
Detroit president Chris Ilitch said all of the games combined over the Winter Classic schedule could draw a total attendance of anywhere between 150,000 and 300,000. The Great Lakes Invitational is played right after Christmas and it will feature Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Western Michigan.
“With this whole festival concept piggybacking off the Winter Classic, it will give more exposure to college hockey and hockey in general,” said Michigan State coach Tom Anastos. “I think people underestimate how important college hockey is to this region. You can’t do an event like this in too many places in America. But you can do it here.”
• Hooray, the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk reports that the Leafs are excited about the Winter Classic;
• And Evil Drew Sharp does what Evil Drew Sharp tends to do:
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke of how giving Detroit this event is, in some ways, a heartfelt thank you to ‘one of the greatest owners’ the NHL has ever had.
Marian Ilitch acknowledged the family’s initial disappointment in not having the main event at Comerica Park. But the NHL more than pacified them with the creation of an overall showcase, dubbed the Hockeytown Winter Festival. It’ll include a Wings-Leafs alumni game, the popular Great Lakes Invitational with Michigan State, Michigan, Michigan Tech and Western Michigan, and minor league, junior and youth games.
“Although Detroit isn’t hosting the main game,” she said, “the fact that the city will be the central focus of the entire spectacular, with all the other events, should be very exciting. And it’s also a great source of pride because of our longstanding commitment to youth and amateur hockey. Having this now does kind of bring things full circle.”
It’s the quirkiness of a hockey game played in a ballpark that adds to the spectacle. What made the Wings-Blackhawks Classic truly special in 2009 wasn’t simply that it was played outside, but that it was held one of the most fabled baseball stadiums: Wrigley Field.
But the Winter Classic has become a significant money maker for the NHL, so the possibility of attracting more than 115,000 people was too tempting to resist.
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